Paper Thin Artist

Alan Resnick is a visual artist, comedian, and filmmaker based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Since 2009 he has been a member of the arts, music, and comedy collective Wham City. He has shown work, performed, and toured internationally. He is obsessed with his own face. He is small. He treats his computer like a person. He co-created the Adult Swim specials Unedited Footage of A Bear and Live Forever As You Are Now With Alan Resnick.


PAPER-THIN: How did you approach your installation at Paper-Thin and can you talk about how this fits in with your current artistic practice?

ALAN RESNICK: I had been playing around with image-based lighting. I got a gazing globe to use for making custom HDRI images. When I was shopping for it I ended up looking at all these photos of gazing globes people were selling online. Each image of a gazing globe had all the reflections of the room it was in and a reflection of the photographer. I started to save and collect these images. The photographer, who wants to sell this garden gazing globe, is only trying to show us the object, but ends up capturing an image of themselves, the entire room, and the lighting conditions they were in. That is useful data, so I “unwrapped” the image to correct the distortion and started using them to light 3d scenes. After I had this collection of lighting conditions I started making “color tests”, placing objects under all these various lighting conditions.

PAPER-THIN: Where does the figure (Ringworm) in your installation at Paper-Thin come from?

ALAN RESNICK: The character and name come from a comic I doodled. I like to make 3D objects from simple bad drawings.

PAPER-THIN: Looking at pieces like Live Forever As You Are Now With Alan Resnick, DVD Featurette, and Living Your Dreams Through Motion Capture, what role does comedy and performance play in your work? How do you see new media fitting into the comedy world, and what new opportunities does the medium present?

ALAN RESNICK: I think there is a lot of humorless fine art and a lot of aesthetic-less comedy. For me they are linked. I’ve always loved learning about advancements in technology, especially when it relates to Hollywood special effects. The visual language of these technologies has overtly influenced my fine art, but it’s also influenced me as a person. Comedians and artists both make work about their own lives and experiences. For some comedians that means jokes about hating their wives and having kids, but for me it means jokes about boolean meshes.

PAPER-THIN: Describe your creative process. Which artists or comedians do you look at for inspiration?

ALAN RESNICK: I use intuition to make most creative decisions. Jiminy Glick is one of my favorite comedians.

PAPER-THIN: How do you approach the range of demands in different projects? For instance, with your Adult Swim work, did you have to change your creative development process drastically? Do you approach your comics in a conceptually different manner than, say, your 3D work or performance work?

ALAN RESNICK: I just want to make something I would want to see. If it’s comedic I just want to make myself laugh. The stuff I’ve made for Adult Swim is way way way more collaborative than most of my other work, but it is still coming from that same intention. The people I’ve collaborated with have very similar senses of humor and taste.

PAPER-THIN: With this variety of mediums present in your work, like the digital performances (Gchat, alantutorial) and animated computer models (Two Horrible Brothers, Ebay Gazing Globes – Suffering Mask) as well as the comics, what do you consider your primary medium? When did you first create work in this medium?

ALAN RESNICK: It’s hard for me to pick a primary focus. I enjoy bouncing around between many things, but professionally I end up working most in video. I’ve always made videos, starting when I was a little kid. In college I made the first video I would describe as “work”.

PAPER-THIN: Can you talk about Wham City and your role in the group?

ALAN RESNICK: Wham City is a very amorphous group of friends who live in Baltimore who enjoy each other’s work. They were more active before I started working with them, and now it’s not not so much a thing with the exception of a lecture series and the comedy group I work with. Wham City Comedy has a core group of Robby Rackleff, Ben O’brien and myself but we pull in other people from time to time.

PAPER-THIN: How do you think living and working in Baltimore has influenced your comedy and art?

ALAN RESNICK: Living in Baltimore means I can afford to live as an artist full time and still pay rent. I think it keeps me a bit closer to reality? I’m sure it has influenced my comedy and art but in ways I’m not sure I can articulate.